JMOL (judgment as a matter of law) vs. MNT (motion for a new trial)

JMOL (Rule 50)

MNT (Rule 59)


50(a): During trial and before verdict

50(b): After verdict

Can be during trial (mistrial)

More often after verdict


50(a): Reasonable jury must find for movant, so no need for a jury

50(b): Reasonable jury must find for movant but did not, so court must reverse verdict

To obtain retrial on an issue, claim, defense, amount of damages, or entire case

Nature of grant

If granted, court enters judgment on issue, claim, defense, or entire case If granted, court orders new trial on issue, claim, defense, amount of damages, or entire case


Substantial evidence.

Used by most federal courts and some state courts.

The court:

  1. Considers all evidence & testimony presented to court by either side.
  2. Does not weigh evidence
  3. Does not determine credibility of witnesses
  4. Gives credence to evidence favoring nonmovant
  5. Draws reasonable inferences in favor of nonmovant
  6. Gives credence to evidence supporting movant that is uncontradicted and unimpeached, at least to extent evidence comes from disinterested witnesses. (Thus, a rebuttable inference of fact put forth by the nonmovant must yield to credible evidence of the actual occurrence.)


Used by some state courts and in certain instances by federal courts. The court:

  1. Will act similarly to above, except court will look only at evidence & testimony presented by nonmovant.
  2. Court will ignore evidence & testimony put forth by movant.


Jury verdict on issue, claims, defense, amount of damages, or entire case was against great weight of the evidence. The judge may assess witness credibility and weigh evidence.

Process error.

This is: 1) an error during trial that is (2) a substantial and not harmless error which is (3) the subject of a specific and timely objection unless (4) the error is plain.

Examples of errors that may justify a new trial:

  • Judge gives erroneous jury instruction
  • Judge erroneously admits evidence or testimony
  • Judge erroneously excludes evidence or testimony
  • Lawyer misconduct
  • Juror misconduct
  • Witness misconduct

Revised April 11, 2016